In a shake-up of state government, Gov. Susana Martinez has ordered agencies throughout New Mexico’s bureaucracy to eliminate human resources divisions and shift responsibility for personnel matters to a single office. Martinez had telegraphed the move for months because of a budget crisis that has prompted cuts across New Mexico government. Her order follows through on a recommendation floated many times during the last several decades as a means of streamlining state bureaucracy and cutting costs. But Martinez’s executive decision also puts the jobs of hundreds of government employees in peril at a time when New Mexico’s unemployment rate is among the nation’s highest. A spokesman for the State Personnel Office said it is still assessing how many employees will be affected but added that the move is expected to save millions of dollars each year.
In response to a complaint filed in March alleging a violation of a state open government law , the City of Albuquerque last month maintained that it can ban members of the public from video-recording its personnel hearings. It’s a stance that the Albuquerque Police Officers Association, the union that represents the city’s 878 police officers, shares. Toni Balzano, a spokeswoman for the union, told New Mexico Political Report that city personnel hearings “should be private unless the city chooses or finds some reason that it should not be.” “We do feel like there’s a lot of information—personnel information—that would not be available to the media or the public through an [Inspection of Public Records] request that is part of these hearings,” she said. The controversy began earlier this year when Charles Arasim, a resident who’s been video-recording and uploading personnel meetings involving police officers online, was told he could not videotape hearings.